Filipina teen Rose Garcia (Eva Noblezada) lives with her mother in a motel in a small Texas town, where Priscilla (Princess Punzalan) works as a maid and covers the front desk. Rose’s father passed away a few years earlier and this has left their immigration status in flux. Priscilla wants a better life for her daughter, and is constantly pushing Rose to study and practice for her SATs. However, Rose has a deep love for music, much like her father did, and often spends her time strumming on her guitar and composing lyrics—though Rose is too shy to sing any of her songs in front of anyone.
While shopping for a new guitar string, Rose meets Elliot (Liam Booth), who works in a music shop nearby. He invites her to join him to see a concert in Austin. Rose knows her mother wouldn’t approve, so she sneaks out with Elliot for her first trip to the city. They end up at the famous Broken Spoke, where country legend Dale Watson (played by himself) his performing. Rose finds herself in heaven, and her inspiration to make music is further ignited. However, her high from the evening quickly goes away when they arrive back at the motel—Rose sees ICE carting her mother away. Now Rose must decide if she is going to leave the only home she’s ever known, joining her mother as she gets deported back to the Philippines, or find a way to stay and pursue her dreams. Rose’s only family is her Aunt Gail (Lea Salonga), who she never really knew after Gail had a falling out with her mother. Gail’s husband also isn’t very keen on harboring an illegal, and doesn’t really want another child staying with them. So Rose turns to her new family, the owner of the Broken Spoke, Jolene (Libby Villari), and her idol Dale Watson, who encourages and helps her to pursue her country music dreams.
The trailer for Yellow Rose and the back of the DVD case, make it appear that the film is all about Rose pursuing a music career, however, this is actually just a very small aspect of the film. Rose’s love of music is certainly a core part of the character—she is constantly wearing earbuds and listening to music to escape her problems, or jotting down new lyrics—however, the actual performance part of the film is quite brief. That said, Eva Noblezada does have a beautiful voice, and the several songs she sings over the course of the film are very moving and emotional—the lyrics “Square Peg…Round Hole..” are still popping into my head days after watching the film. Yellow Rose is more of a character drama, focusing on how Rose deals with the sudden crashing down of her world and her struggle to find a new sense of family and people to trust. She has a tough decision on her hands, having to choose between her mother and following her dreams. While the former may be the simpler path, she would be giving up on the only life she’s ever known, and her love of music. The latter would be far more difficult, having to start a new life on her own with no support or family to help her, but in the end following her dreams would be far more rewarding. While the film gets quite dramatic and serious at times, it also contains some elements of a romantic comedy—there is this fun connection that forms between Elliot and Rose. They seem perfect for one another, but their blossoming feelings quickly take a back seat to Rose’s much bigger problems. While I enjoyed the film overall, my one complaint would be that the final act felt a bit rushed, and while it does leave the viewer on an upbeat note (no pun intended), it never comes to a full resolution.
I was sent the DVD for review, the the film has also been released in HD on Blu-ray and Digital formats. For the most part Sony’s DVD release looks and sounds quite good. The picture gets a bit blurry and less detailed at times, but that may have been a stylistic choice. Also, some of the darker scenes can get a bit grainy. I suspect the picture will look better in the HD releases. The audio track provides clear dialogue and showcases the great musical performances. The track also adds some ambiance, such as the sounds of the busy, wild crowd inside the Broken Spoke. Unfortunately, this is a barebones release that doesn’t include any bonus material or a digital copy. The DVD disc comes packed in a standard DVD keepcase without a slipcover.
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Audio Descriptive Service
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
- Previews (5:41)
Trailers for “The Broken Hearts Gallery”, “I Carry You With Me”, “The Kid Detective” and “The Last Shift” play back-to-back.
Yellow Rose is a heartwarming tale of a girl who is forced to quickly grow up when ICE takes away the only family and home she has ever known. Now she must decide whether to abandon her dreams and join her mother, or stay and fight for a new life and to pursue her love of country music. Along this journey, they audience gets some beautiful musical performances. Sony’s DVD presentation is pretty solid, but unfortunately doesn’t include any bonus material or a digital copy. That said, the film itself is definitely worth a look.